Asics Corp. released its 2019 Sustainability Report which summarizes the company’s progress towards medium- and long-term sustainability targets. The results for 2019 were highlighted by a 27.9 percent reduction in CO2 emissions per pair of shoes during the manufacturing process (compared to 2015 baseline levels), far greater than the 10 percent target Asics set for itself by 2020.

“2020 is the final year of our current five-year strategic plan. While we have met many of this plan’s sustainability targets ahead of schedule, our work does not stop there,” said Motoi Oyama, chairman and CEO of Asics Corporation. “We have already started drawing up our new outlook plan toward 2030, based on the new materiality analysis[1] we completed at the end of 2019. In line with the UN‘s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we will continue to strive toward a sustainable future for our business and the planet.”

For Asics, the health and wellbeing of customers, staff and athletes are the top priority. Asics wrote in its statement, “Asics believes in the power of sport to uplift, and in times like this it has never been as important to help everyone achieve a sound mind in a sound body. Asics will continue to do everything it can to help the world achieve that goal.”

At the same time, Asics said the world is facing a climate emergency, and addressing this challenge requires radical action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To account for its ambition in this area, Asics has accelerated its science-based GHG emissions reduction targets in 2019. The company’s new commitment is in line with global efforts to limit average temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, aligning with a net-zero future by 2050.

Additionally, in 2019, Asics enhanced the integration of sustainability into its business by setting up a new Sustainability Committee as an advisory board to the Board of Directors chaired by its president and COO. Together with the support of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), this structure is designed to help Asics respond proactively to climate change challenges while ensuring its business can grow responsibly.

Asics said it aims to switch 100 percent of the polyester used in its products to be recycled polyester by 2030. This is one of the company’s key strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s value chain and achieve its science-based targets. The goal behind this strategy is to support a more circular approach where resources are recycled rather than using virgin materials, an approach also reduces GHG emissions.

In 2019, Asics developed a recycled polyester roadmap for each product category and accelerated the use of recycled polyester in new products under development. Starting in 2020 and beyond, Asics expects to begin increasing the proportion of recycled polyester in company products overall.

Asics recently launched the ‘Edo Era Tribute Pack’ in April 2020, a collection of shoes designed and developed in 2019, drawing its inspiration from Japan’s Edo period. Tokyo was called “Edo” until 1868 and was one of the first cities in the world to recycle and follow sustainable practices. The ‘Edo Era Tribute Pack,’ featuring high-tech sustainable shoes made from recycled PET bottles, is inspired by Tokyo’s heritage. Recycled polyester is used in the shoe’s upper material while approximately 300,000 PET bottles will be recycled to manufacture the whole collection.

In July of 2019, Asics launched a new sustainable packaging policy to reduce waste generated further down its supply chain, at the retail and consumer level. The primary focus of the policy is to eliminate single-use plastic throughout the supply chain, and where plastic is necessary, switching to eco-friendly substitutes. Based on the policy, Asics committed to changing the main material in its shopping bags in all directly managed stores from plastic to paper by the end of 2020.

Asics also plans to introduce a new, more sustainable shoebox in July 2020. The box uses water-based ink rather than oil-based ink. The new box also reduces the total amount of ink used by 50 percent compared with earlier boxes. Additionally, the new box uses 10 percent less cardboard, so it is less carbon-intensive to produce, saving around 1,200 tons in CO2 emissions per year.

To address potential migrant worker issues, Asics introduced a grievance mechanism for suppliers in Thailand and Japan.  Produced in partnership with the Global Alliance for Sustainable Supply Chain (ASSC), the mechanism provides workers with a channel to raise concerns.

Asics continues to support children in adversity. Partnering with the international charity organization, Right To Play, Asics is proud to support child refugees in Syrian through the unique Kids Athletic program. This project gives children the opportunity to have fun and make friends by taking part in sports activities in a safe environment. In 2019, Asics expanded Project Lebanon to a third city, Nabatieh, reaching 28 new coaches and 2,230 children. In 2020, Asics plans to expand the project to bring the benefits of sports to those who need it most.

The full 2019 Sustainability Report can be found here.